Thursday, March 1, 2018

My Audition Quilt

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I periodically write Throwback Thursday posts to share quilts that I made during my pre-blogging days. It is my goal to eventually have some documentation of every quilt I have made. I've shared most of the pre-blogging quilts that I made for friends and family. I still have a lot of other quilts to document, but I think before I continue, it might be fun to share the story of my short, happy career as a "professional" quilter. 

A long time ago, I was a stay-at-home mom who loved to quilt. Sometimes I made a little money doing daycare to help out friends or neighbors, and sometimes I half-heartedly checked out the Help Wanted ads in the newspaper to see if there was something there that appealed to me. I didn't really know what I was looking for. But when I quilted, I always thought, "Wouldn't it be great if I could do this as a job?" Well, one day this ad appeared in our paper nestled among other ads for secretaries, social workers, shop foremen and small engine mechanics:

I think it was my husband who found it. He encouraged me to call the number (I've blurred it out in the photo in case someone still has it.) I remember that I was reluctant to make the call. I wasn't at all sure I was skilled, and I couldn't believe that someone would actually pay me to quilt. But I did make the call and arranged for an interview. As stated above, a sample was required. That sent me into a tizzy. I don't remember exactly what I was working on at that time, but whatever it was, I deemed it Not Good Enough for a job interview. So I decided to make something small that would show my ability with the least amount of work. And I made sure there would be no seams to cross and make my stitches uneven. Here's what I made:

Area inside the red basting stitches is 8 1/2 inches square.

My inspiration for the pattern was the decal design on my Singer Featherweight machine. I sandwiched some thin polyester batting between two pieces of cotton and quilted it with the tiniest stitches possible. I am absolutely sure that I have never quilted such tiny stitches again. 

The West Coast quilt maker came to the Midwest to interview me at her sister's house, and after a short conversation, she offered me the opportunity to quilt for her. For the next 7 years, I  hand quilted crib-sized and miniature quilt tops made by the quilt maker from reconstructed antique blocks and fabric. As time went on, I took a greater role in designing the quilting. I also learned to repair little tears in the fragile fabric using super thin fusible interfacing. And as a bonus, I learned how to make my own miniature quilts. 

That job was my dream job. It also led to quilting for other clients--some by referral from the quilt maker who hired me and others through gains in my own confidence to seek them out. In 1992, by mutual agreement, the job ended. The quilt maker changed directions in her fiber artistry, and I returned to my former career in the schools.

Over the next few months, a little at a time, I'll share the quilts I quilted or made during my tiny quilting career. I'm linking up today with Sandra at mmm! quilts for Throwback Thursday.

Have a wonderful weekend. Keep quilting, and stay open to unexpected quilting opportunities. You never know when and where they'll turn up!


  1. I love this story!!! And how wonderful that you ended up quilting for that lady for so many years affter. :) :)

  2. My goodness, what a story! You can be very proud of your seven years of being a professional quilter.

  3. What an interesting story! I look forward to reading more of your quilting history. Goodness those stitches are small!!

  4. I had no idea! I loved your story and look forward to seeing your quilts. Your stitching is exquisite!

  5. Awww, I love this story! So amazing to thing how a tiny little advertisement in a newspaper changed your life so dramatically. I am looking forward to seeing the quilts you quilted pre-blogging. Did you mostly quilt for her or did you make a lot of quilts on your own too?

  6. What a,coincidence! My birthday is May 6, the date of the ad. The year of 1985 was when I first joined a quilt guild and started making my own Quilts. I worked on mostly art Quilts of my own ideas. Dropped out of Quilting after a couple of moves and came back again several years ago and have loved being a quilt blogger for,four years now. So many wonderful friends in my life now!

  7. Who knew such a job existed? Not me! I'm amazed that you still have that pretty little sample. Do you ever think about finishing it up into a little wall hanging?

  8. Now, that was a dream job. Hope you stay warm.